Dear Penny: My Daughter Is Pregnant With a Kid She Can’t Afford. Do I Help?

A pregnant mother takes a break while holding her toddler in her arms. She's resting against a tree in a city.
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Dear Penny,

I need advice, please! My 30-year-old daughter and two grandkids moved into our home two years ago. She left a very toxic relationship. We opened our doors to her so she would be able to get back on her feet and save some money. 

Well, she is now in a relationship and pregnant with her third child. Her plan is to get her own place, but she wants to leave my oldest granddaughter here with us. She is 13, and the reason for this is that she can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment. It seems that she and the boyfriend will not live together because he helps his grandmother and father pay for the home they live in. 

I feel bad for my daughter, but I also feel like she wasn’t ready for another child at this moment. I love my granddaughter, but I feel like she needs to be with her mom.

— C.

Dear C.,

This one’s tough because so many things are out of your control, like your daughter’s decision to have another child. I’m also guessing it’s frustrating to see her boyfriend not take financial responsibility for the family he’s created, which is also out of your hands. Yet because of their decisions, you’re being asked to make a really difficult choice.

Your daughter and grandchildren have already been living with you for two years. Has she made any progress on saving money or stabilizing her finances? If so, would you be open to letting your daughter and her kids stay a bit longer so she can save up for a bigger apartment? Would she be up for that arrangement? I get that this would be a strain, given that you’d soon be adding another member to your household. But this is a situation without a perfect solution.

Dear Penny

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Or is there another way you could help your daughter? You don’t say whether you’re working or retired. But if you’re no longer working and you’re able to help out with child care, perhaps that could free up room in your daughter’s budget for a larger apartment. You’re certainly not obligated to be your daughter’s free babysitter. But if you want to help and have the time and energy to care for children, perhaps that’s a way to provide some relief.

Otherwise, think about what would provide more stability in your granddaughter’s life. Do you think she’d be better off moving into a one-bedroom apartment so she can be with her mother and siblings? Or do you think she’d be happier and healthier staying with you in what’s been her home for the past two years? I really don’t know the answer.

Given that your granddaughter is 13, she may be old enough to weigh in. It’s essential that you and your daughter approach this conversation delicately. Tell your granddaughter how loved she is. Communicate that both you and her mother want her to live in the home where she’d best thrive.

I’m not sure what your financial situation is or whether you’re still working. But obviously, raising a grandchild can put serious stress on your budget, especially if you’re on a fixed income. If your daughter receives child support from your granddaughter’s other parent, ask her to give that money to you while your granddaughter resides in your home. You might also speak with a social worker about whether any benefits are available to grandparents raising grandchildren.

This doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing situation. If your granddaughter does move into that cramped one-bedroom apartment, perhaps you could tell her that she’s welcome to stay with you on weekends or any other time she needs some space.

Regardless of whether your granddaughter winds up living with you or her mother, she’ll benefit from knowing she has a supportive grandparent who’s always in her camp.

Does your balance sheet need a reset? Try these smart ways to organize your finances.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].